Gin Van, Joan Collins and Rare Earth

Friday is upon us, so a few notes about cocktails.

Blue Hawaiian, anyone?

The cocktail snob is suffering a (deserved) backlash, as Robert O. Simonson of the New York Times points out in When Bad Drinks Go Good:

Just as the cocktail renaissance has brought renewed fame to classics like the martini, the Manhattan and the Negroni, it has heaped fresh infamy on a rogues’ gallery of less classy concoctions, most of which emerged during the final decades of the last century.

Now a backlash of sorts has begun, as some high-end bartenders apply their skills to a new challenge: doing bad drinks well.

Bars like Holiday Cocktail Lounge in New York; Pépé Le Moko in Portland, Oregon; and the Automatic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the martini shares space on the menu with a blue margarita, have risen to this curious challenge.

Whenever I see the Blue Hawaiian cocktail, which is not often, I compusively think of Elvis in Blue Hawaii (1961):

Superb sash.

Two by two.

The martini is not a complex drink.

Mercifully, this article keeps the options simple:

The cocktail world is divided into two camps: those who order martinis and those who don’t. And for those who don’t, it may be because they just haven’t found their best martini yet.

There are many different ways to mix this cocktail, and there’s a recipe out there for everyone ― you just have to know what to ask for when you stroll up to the bar. 

Classically, a martini is one part dry vermouth to four parts gin. But that recipe is not set in stone ― here are eight different ways you can order the cocktail. Figure out what’s right for you and have a better happy hour.

Read the entire article: How To Order A Martini Like A Total Pro.

Gin van (New World Trading Company)

A great concept from the United Kingdom: a mobile gin van:

Forget hosting a BYOB gathering, you can now pay for a mobile gin van to deliver delicious drinks straight to your party. The catch is that you can’t have the van, called The Wanderer, on speed dial for a quick drink or two.

Instead, the van, created by New World Trading Company (NWTC), has to be hired as a fully-kitted mobile bar, so it’s more suitable for weddings and big celebrations than your average house party.

Still, dedicated gin fans may be tempted to club together for an extravagant Saturday night after hearing what the van offers.

Read the article by Rachel Moss: This Mobile Gin Van Will Deliver Cocktails Straight To Your Party (But There’s A Catch).

From the UK’s Daily Mail, an article on retro drinks and the current popularity of bitter drinks (the Negroni) and ingredients (such as Campari, Cinzano and Aperol):

Speaking about the new trend, John Vine, drinks buyer at Waitrose, said: ‘Bitter notes can be refreshing and act as a foil to sweetness , the right balance makes for the perfect cocktail.’

His comments correspond with data from the store, which shows a thirty five per cent sales increase in sales of Cinzano, which is perhaps best known for its placement in the iconic TV advert featuring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins.

I am a fan of bitter cocktails and have written previously about the Negroni.  Such drinks reflect, in some ways, this vale of tears through which we pass.

Failing to recall the “iconic TV ad,” I looked it up:

Outstanding.  According to the Campari corporate website:

Rated 11th best TV commercial of all time, the most famous Cinzano TV ads were those of Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins during the 1970s. The infamous couple engaged in 10 unforgettable slapstick sketches that always ended in Rossiter pouring a glass of Cinzano on a progressively more resigned Joan Collins.

Here is another one, this time about rose.

The Gin Corner

Rose be damned.  I am partial to gin.  Spaniards apparently take their gin and tonic seriously:

“In Spain, gin-tonic is not just a cocktail, 
it is an obsession,” says José Andrés. Here’s everything you need to know to nail this iconic drink at home—and six places in the States with excellent G&T options.

  • In Spain, fresh herbs (lemon verbena, rosemary or lavender), 
lemon peel, juniper berries, edible flowers and even whole spices are used to enhance the gin’s botanicals.
  • Spanish bars stock as many as 50 different gins. Our choice: a London dry style. José’s two favorites: Rives Special Premium Tridestilada from Andalusia and Xoriguer Gin de Mahón from Menorca.
  • Amplify the aroma of the 
gin and the garnishes with a large wine glass or goblet.
  • Big ice cubes keep your gin-tonic chilled without watering 
it down.
  • Look for tonic made with cane sugar or agave (not high-fructose syrup), such as Q, Fever-Tree or Fentimans, for 
a balanced mix 
of sweetness 
cut with quinine bitterness.

In particular, I endorse lemon (rather than lime); lots of ice (most G&Ts are insufficiently cold); and high-quality, non-syrupy tonic.

Read the full article here: How to Make the Perfect Gin and Tonic, According to José Andrés.

Also, from the Boston Globe, a recipe-filled article for new gin cocktails from New England distillers.

The Joy Division (via Liquor.com)

Finally, here is a recipe for the Joy Division cocktail.  This may be worthy of a try: at times, I will rinse the inside of a martini glass with absinthe, which manages to simultaneously slow down and speed up the gin.

I know little of the post-punk English band from which the cocktail takes its name, although one of my favorite crime writers, Ian Rankin, used the title of one of their songs for a book title.

More to my taste, and to start you into your weekend, is Rare Earth’s 1970 version of “Get Ready”:

Preview (opens in a new window)


The Drinking Reader, Our Cocktails Magazine, Tom Jones and Other Weekend Matters

Cocktails on Flipboard.

Cocktails on Flipboard.

White Collar Wire supports cocktails.

As part of that effort, I have a magazine on Flipboard called (helpfully) “Cocktails.”  Follow here, read on and use good ice.

Two items we focus on — books and cocktails — come together in How to Build a Solid Drinking Library, by New York Times writer (and bartender) Rosie Schaap:

Are there places I like as much as great bars? Yes: great bookshops. And if I had to pick a favorite in the latter category, it’s Dog Ears Book Barn in the little town of Hoosick, N.Y. Conveniently, it’s just a little ways down Route 7 from the Man of Kent, one of America’s best bars. A couple of hours spent digging through Dog Ears for treasure, then bringing those books to the Man of Kent and perusing them over a few pints for a few more hours? That’s what I call a perfect day.

Read the entire piece here.

All you need (courtesy of Gear Patrol).

All you need (courtesy of Gear Patrol).

On the subject of cocktails, absinthe has made a comeback, as shown in Gear Patrol‘s piece on How to Drink Absinthe Like a Gentleman.

Absinthe’s history mirrors the way it’s meant to be prepared: a mix of the misunderstood and the legitimately unusual. For most of its existence, the spirit has been slandered, ostracized and, in rarer cases, revered. It’s been dragged across borders, masqueraded as other liquors, aspersed with hallucination claims and — since its ban was lifted in America in 2007 — the spirit has been secretly embracing it all.

“There’s a tradition. There’s a lure to the preparation of absinthe”, says Will Elliot, a bartender at Brooklyn’s Maison Premiere, an oyster and cocktail den with the allure of a New Orleans haunt. Absinthe, at 68 percent alcohol, is a compacted spirit. Once diluted with water, the essential oils and flavors loosen to reveal the drink’s nuances. Preparing an absinthe drink involves combining botanicals, flavors and aromatic elements, Elliot says. “It’s not the sort of spirit that you just toss back.” As for lighting it on fire, which often is brought up in discussions on how absinthe’s served, “You wouldn’t…that’s really damaging the alcohol”, Elliot says. He got behind the bar to debunk some myths and walk us through two traditional absinthe drinks — a drip and a frappe — and a new twist on an old cocktail.

The Martinez (via The Cabinet Rooms)

The Martinez (via The Cabinet Rooms)

From the The Cabinet Rooms blog, a recipe for the Martinez, a precursor to the modern martini:

Continuing our exploration into the world of gin, we’ve been perusing classic gin-based cocktails this week. One dating back to the 1880’s is the Martinez; a smooth and refreshing drink, packed full of herbal aromatics. Usually made by mixing gin, vermouth and bitters with either maraschino liqueur or orange curaçao, this drink is a great alternative to the Martini. We love the combination of the gin’s botanicals with the fruitier notes of the vermouth and sweetness of the maraschino. Here we’ve used Burleigh’s London Dry and garnished with a black cherry, soaked in a rich Kirsch syrup, for a touch of added luxury.

A frosty one.

A frosty one.

From the Garden & Gun blog, a video recipe  for a modern mint julep.

From The Telegraph, a review of fancy bitters:

“You’re writing about bitters – great beers!” my husband said. But no, with respect to him and Britain’s brewers, I’m going to talk about something far more chic and high fashion. And bitters – those little, apothecary-like bottles of intensely aromatic botanical tinctures – are about as on-trend as you can get right now.

This follows on from the premium gin craze, as what could be better than bitters to dash in your G&T? Angostura, the brand that most of us know, is good stuff, but do branch out and try other, distinctive smaller-batch bitters, such as the extraordinary range made by The Bitter Truth.

Finally, a clip of Tom Jones singing “She’s A Lady,” just because we can:


Memorial Day Weekend Cocktails, Plus A Navy Seal’s Commencement Speech

FlagBest wishes for a happy Memorial Day weekend from White Collar Wire.

Mow what grass?

Mow what grass?

From the New York Times, this set of interactive videos about summer cocktails is a great start to the weekend.

The Thin Man movies starring Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) combine two elements of our mission (cocktails and crime fiction).  This montage from several “Thin Man” films has some of their best martini-hits.

A suspect.

A suspect.

 

We support gin here at White Collar Wire.  See this article about the renewal of gin in London.  And, on the subject of gin, from Liquor.com is this video on the Corpse Reviver Number 2.

Tiki drinks are a hot-weather favorite.  From Saveur.com, here’s a story about Dragon 88’s mai tai.

Nothing causes good-natured arguments better than the correct preparation of the Sazerac.  From our friends at Gastronomista.com, an article that reminds you: Trust Me, You’re Drinking Your Sazerac Wrong.

Finally, I am no great fan of commencement addresses, but this one by Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, seems especially appropriate on Memorial Day weekend.

A Polynesian extravaganza.

A Polynesian extravaganza.


Come Fly With Me: Airplane Drinks, Beer For Breakfast, Cocktail Science and Socrates

Our notes on cocktails this Friday.

"And then he said, 'Business class, my ass.'"

“And then he said, ‘Business class, my ass.'”

From Gastronomista, an Avua Cachaca Pam Am cocktail:

I was recently introduced to Avuá Cachaça, a relatively new cachaça on the market.  After a boozy night out on the town touring some of New York City’s best bars, including Sasha Petrosky’s famed Milk & Honey, I’m convinced that this is a bottle I want to keep in my library of libations.

 

 

Please place your seats and trays in their upright and locked position.

Coffee?  Tea?  Something stronger?

Coffee? Tea? Something stronger?

 

Come Fly With Me (1958)

Come Fly With Me (1958)

Indeed, on YouTube, “Come Fly With Me” by Frank Sinatra.

 

 

 

 

In a frosty mug, please.

In a frosty mug, please.

 

 

 

 

 

From Saveur, for those who like it dark and early in the day, here’s The Brew: Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout:

One of the biggest deals for craft beer enthusiasts is the annual spring release of Founders Brewing Company’s “highly acclaimed” KBS, or Kentucky Breakfast Stout. The outrageous 11.2% bourbon barrel-aged beer attracts fans from all over the country to Founders’ home base of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they line up for hours on end for short pours of the inky, robust brew. The beer’s release has become so popular that Founders issues tickets for the event, and this year, rather than pour it just at the brewery’s taproom, they decided to celebrate with a week-long party throughout greater Grand Rapids.

Gabriella Mlynarczyk’s Smoky Brown-Butter Old-Fashioned, Jamie Boudreau’s Chocolate Milk and Dave Arnold’s Italiano Stalliano.  Credit Sarah Anne Ward for The New York Times. Food stylist: Suzanne Lenzer. Prop stylist: Paola Andrea.

Gabriella Mlynarczyk’s Smoky Brown-Butter Old-Fashioned, Jamie Boudreau’s Chocolate Milk and Dave Arnold’s Italiano Stalliano.
Credit Sarah Anne Ward for The New York Times. Food stylist: Suzanne Lenzer. Prop stylist: Paola Andrea.

From the New York Times, we have Cocktail Science, Simplified.  Booze with cookies, though, is not to my taste.

 

"This gin is awfully bitter."

“This gin is awfully bitter.”

Now, this is more like it.  From the Huffington Post and Liquor.com, here are 12 cocktails to drink before you die and 5 essential spring gin cocktails, including the Ramos gin fizz.

 

 

 

 

 


Weekend Cocktail Notes from White Collar Wire

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“’This is a good place,’ he said.
‘There’s a lot of liquor,’ I agreed.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

beefeater-gin-bot1960s-main_image-250

Gin is juniper, in our opinion.  Gin should not be “citrus-forward”: Is The Gin Category In Danger of Losing Its Way? 

on-booze

F. Scott Fitzgerald, On Booze

From the advertising blurb:

“First you take a drink,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once noted, “then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” Fitzgerald wrote alcohol into almost every one of his stories. On Booze gathers debutantes and dandies, rowdy jazz musicians, lost children and ragtime riff-raff into a newly compiled collection taken from The Crack-Up, and other works. On Booze portrays “The Jazz Age” as Fitzgerald experienced it: roaring, rambunctious, and lush – with quite a hangover.

Time Out

Timeout’s Best Cocktails In New York City 2013:

Blackthorn

New York cocktail lovers had plenty to choose from with this year’s excellent slugs. Our favorite drinks included a Spanish-tinged julep, a highbrow egg cream and a head-turning martini. From daisies to gimlets and everything in between—these are TONY’s top tipples of the year.